March quickening

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Mar 09, 2006 12:05 AM

Nature's March quickening reminds, in the words of naturalist Hal Borland, that "no winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn." And so, comments on a rising spring selection of items in the news. . . .

The onset of certain spring rites elicits warnings about booze. The American Medical Association, reflecting findings that alcohol consumption is soaring among women under 25 (a 33 percent rise in volume among such American and British women during the five years ending in 2004), calls upon young women to watch the alcohol intake during - particularly - spring break. The consequences can be heavy in multitudinous ways.

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The extent of the booze problem in college? Hear this, by Steve Olson - the author, most recently, of "Count Down":

Out of 8 million college students aged 18-24 in the United States, more than a thousand die each year because of their drinking, Boston University researchers estimated in 2002. They die from auto accidents, alcohol overdoses, drowning, falls and asphyxiation. Five hundred thousand - one in 16 - are injured, many in ways from which they will never completely recover. Six hundred thousand are hit, raped or otherwise assaulted. More than 150,000 drop out of school in part because of their drinking; others see their grades drop and relationships suffer.

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And while on the subject of March, here's one for the books: Come Tuesday, voters in Supreme Court Justice David Souter's hometown of Weare, N.H., will decide whether the town should take Souter's house for an inn prospectively named the "Lost Liberty Hotel"; the inn would feature, smack on the site of Souter's house, the "Just Deserts Cafe." Souter sided with the court majority in the kooky Kelo ruling that said localities may employ eminent domain to take private property for a higher economic use. Angry libertarians deeming private property nearly sacrosanct have put the question on the Weare ballot. Souter inherited his 200-year-old house from his mother, and she from her parents. Stay tuned for word from Weare.

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Of course, the court was emphatically right in its 8-0 ruling saying colleges accepting federal money cannot deny campus access to military recruiters. The case was brought by a coalition of law schools, all spilling chutzpah but many lacking sufficient moxie to allow their names to be publicly attached to the lawsuit - perhaps in the belief that the public would think they had lost their intellectual license to teach the law.

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The Wall Street Journal's Heather Mac Donald had this to say in January about how far many law schools have moved from the legal mainstream:

Look no further than the law school "clinic." These campus law firms, faculty-supervised and student-staffed, have been engaging in left-wing litigation and advocacy for 30 years. Though law schools claim that the clinics teach students the basics of law practice while providing crucial representation to poor people, in fact they routinely neither inculcate lawyering skills nor serve the poor. They do, however, offer the legal professoriate a way to engage in political activism - almost never of a conservative cast.

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Amid suggestions that Iran had a hand in the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra, Iraq, Iran's hysterical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the bombing on "Zionists" and Christian forces in Iraq. To cries of "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" he said: "These heinous acts are committed by a group of Zionists and occupiers that have failed. They have failed in the face of Islam's logic and justice. But be sure, you will not be saved from the wrath and power of the justice-seeking nations."

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And right there, standing side by side with Iran, are our friends the Saudis and Egyptians. As Iran has pledged financial support to the (now) Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority, so with Saudi Arabia and Egypt: Declaring it premature to pre-judge the terror-driven Hamas, both have rejected the U.S. strategy of isolating Hamas by cutting off financial backing.


The Republicans may not get it about Jack Abramoff, but that should not imply the Democrats do. The Abramoff influence-buying scandal is hardly a Republican problem alone. According to Capital Eye, a D.C. based campaign-finance watchdog group, 41 Republican Senators received money from Abramoff, his associates or his Indian tribe clients. So did 24 Democratic Senators, including the Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. Sen. Reid has made a big deal of saying he received no money from Abramoff ("I've never met the man, don't know anything"). Yet apparently, if Capital Eye is correct, he took a good deal of money from Abramoff associates and tribal clients.

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A finding by Federal District Judge Federico Moreno has come too late for 15 Cuban refugees. The Coast Guard found the 15 clinging to a broken bridge in the Florida Straits; U.S. immigration declared the 15 had not made it to the U.S. proper, and dispatched them back to Cuba. Judge Moreno has ruled that the U.S. erred big-time. No telling what Castro has ordered done to the Cuban 15. And for the U.S. to return them to a dismal fate in Comrade Fidel's concentration camp was flagrantly unconscionable.